We are pleased to announce that our 2019/2020 Dalrymple Lecture Series will be given by Professor Adam T. Smith, on the subject of The Civilization Machine.
This series of lectures is held over four consecutive evenings, starting on Monday, November 18th, 2019, and finishing on Thursday, November 21, 2019. Unlike our usual lecture programme, the Dalrymple Lecture Series are held in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre on the corner of Gibson Street and University Avenue.
This lecture for Wednesday, November 20th, begins at 6:30pm.
Few intellectual turns have been more complete than the exile of the idea of civilization from the late 20th century historical imagination. What had been a bulwark of Whiggish historiography was relegated to the very margins of scholarly reflection, a tarnished, even archaic, term made ridiculous by the twinned shocks of world wars and decolonization. It has thus been quite surprising that the 21st century has brought with it the conceptual rehabilitation of civilization, both as a social formation and a chrononym for our historical moment. But while civilization appears to have regained some credibility as a descriptive term, it still lacks the analytic capacity needed to help us understand how it produces coherent large-scale communities and hence shapes the long-term histories of human societies. It lacks, in other words, a user manual that can define its conditions of assembly, its operation and maintenance, and how to troubleshoot failures.
In these lectures, Professor Smith will argue that civilization is not a state of being but a material apparatus, a complex machine that produces publics, human communities that understand themselves as coherent actors. This civilization machine thus not only informs our accounts of the past but also conditions our present and hence our possible futures. As human relationships with our material world have fostered increasing anxiety over the sustainability of civilization, it is imperative that we begin to gain a solid understanding of the logics shaping this powerful apparatus. The lectures take Bronze and Iron Age Caucasia as their primary focus as they move across the disciplinary terrain of philosophy, political science, anthropology, history, and archaeology.
Lecture Three: Maintenance: the Useful Barbarian in the Age of Empire
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 – 6.30pm
No figure is as vital to the operation of the civilization machine as the barbarian, a conceptual figure that defines the boundaries of publics through the articulation of who is recognized and who is Other. Barbarians populate both the historical imagination of the “state of nature” and the “savage slot” that defines the antithesis of civility. They are also the quintessential Iron Age addition to the civilization machine. Taking the Kingdom of Urartu as a case study, this lecture will examine the role of nature and the barbarian in the technologies of alterity vital to the civilization machine in an age of empire.
There is no need to book tickets in advance for this event; attendance is free of charge and open to members and non-members of Glasgow Archaeological Society alike. If you are interested in becoming a member of the society and would like more information, please see our Membership page or contact our Membership Secretary via email.